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Thank you for being my son

  • Posted on January 6, 2012 at 11:40 am

On December 19th I received the call that every mother dreads and prays never comes. My son Dan, age 45, had a heart attack at work and transitioned soon after arriving at the emergency room.

I immediately fell into despair, but managed to call a dear friend who came immediately and after a huge hug gave me two instructions, “Breathe” and “Exhale.” After forcing me to repeat this exercise a few times we began the difficult tasks ahead of us.

Somehow I managed to call my daughters, do some laundry and pack my suitcase. Early the next morning daughter Sarah and I began a tough three-day drive from Tidewater, Virginia to northern Minnesota where Dan lived and worked. Along the way we collected his girlfriend Linda B. from southern Wisconsin. Daughter Linda had to remain at home to care for her three grandchildren while their parents worked.

Dan’s supervisor helped us do what needed to be done then escorted us to a company-owned villa at a nearby ski resort. What a wonderful way to settle down after three days on the road. The next day we moved into Dan’s rented house trailer and tackled the overwhelming job of sorting through Dan’s boxes and piles. We felt Dan’s comforting presence as we worked. Linda B’s supervisor kept in touch by telephone advising us each step of the way.

We cried, we laughed and took turns collapsing and supporting each other. After each day’s hard work we relaxed by watching a silly movie from Dan’s extensive DVD collection. Mild weather was one of many gifts he gave us. Temperatures stayed in the high teens and low twenties. The heaviest snowfall was only two inches much to the dismay of locals who were anticipating winter sports. When the Minnesotans commented on the mild weather we just smiled because we knew Dan was protecting us.

Even though nearly everything was closed Dec 23-26 for the Christmas holiday we managed to accomplish nearly all our business. Linda B. was able to leave on Dec 29. Sarah and I began our trip home on December 31 and arrived home on January 2. We spent the first night at Linda’s house where we had a brief memorial service in her living room.

Dan’s years with me and his sisters were a gift. I used to say that Dan lived in his own time zone. Even though he was chronically late, that is not quite true. He lived in his own world, one denied many of us. He was my baby, my teacher and at times a royal pain.

When Dan was about 16 months old I was sitting in a chair with my legs resting on a footstool. He untied my shoestrings. I told him to re-tie them. He did. The knot was loose but done correctly.

No one was a stranger to Dan. Much to my chagrin, as a baby he would go to anyone who held out a hand. One time when he was 3 or 4 I was chastised for bringing such a lively, obviously healthy child to the Fort Hood sick call. The nurse didn’t believe he was ill until she took his temperature. That same day he climbed onto a man’s lap and began a conversation. When I told Dan to get down, the man said that Dan was fine and could stay. Once the man went into see the doctor another nurse scolded me for allowing Dan to bother the fort commander. Yikes!

In first grade Dan’s teacher took all his school supplies away from him and put them in the coat closet. She allowed him to retrieve only the item(s) needed for one lesson at a time. This happened after he glued his crayons into a perfect triangle and used his pencil sharpener to reduce his pencils to a pile of shavings then glued both projects to the inside of his desk.

In high school He rebelled by doing whatever would irritate adults. Only in the past few years did I realize that the issue was not him, but that I was trying to force an advanced soul into a “normal” mode.

As a teen he read holy books from all the major religions. As he matured he would get into deep conversations with anyone. Because he was who he was, they listened and responded.

I knew that I was not qualified to be the parent of such a child. His actions and words showed us that he was destined to be much more than an average young man. His vast stores of knowledge astounded us yet his sense of humor kept us giggling for days.

Three years ago he used an impolite word in front of his two-year old great nephew and was soundly chastised by his sisters. Later that day Dan sat with the baby coaching him to say, “Colorful metaphor.”

Over the past few months Dan made a point of contacting family and old friends. His last visit, just days before his transition, were amazing to all of us. Dan made a point of visiting as many of his relatives as he could. He went hunting with his dad and shot his first deer. He was infinitely patient with my questions and requests and built me a planter box.

As soon as we caught our breath from the news, we all realized that Dan knew his time was near. He had survived many situations that could have ended his earthly life, yet he chose this time and said farewell to as many as he could.

Dan’s earthly accomplishments included serving eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps, remaining clean and sober for 24 years, graduating college, building a career as a programmer/analyst and forging his photography skills into a profitable and award-winning hobby. He learned several healing modalities and traveled on spiritual journeys to much of the United States and parts of Canada and Mexico, Peru, Egypt, Tibet, several African countries and several European countries.

Thank you for being my son, Dan. I cry because I didn’t honor who you were. Semper Fi!

© by Sharon D. Dillon, January 6, 2012